Written And Photographed By Liv Foltiny
Have you ever had one of those days where you don’t want to go anywhere? You know, the kind where you want to stay home in your sweat clothes? Well, that was how this past Wednesday initially started for me; my only definitive plan for the day was to
do a little bit of graphic design work for my boss. However, after receiving a press credential confirmation email in the afternoon, I accepted that I’d have to go out that night, and, in the end, would be glad that I did.
Only knowing one of GAYLE’s songs “abcdefu,” I didn’t exactly know what to expect from her upcoming performance. If anything, maybe I thought her show and music would have fallen more on the pop side of things, but that wasn’t the case.
Unbeknownst to me, I was about to see how it wasn’t only millennial artists and millennial-fronted bands (e.g. – The Struts, The Neon Trees, and Radkey) helping to keep rock n’ roll alive.
At 9 p.m., with “GAYLE” written in safety pins projected onto the stage curtain, GAYLE (bassist, guitarist, and lead vocalist), Andrew Grasso (drummer), and Max Landis (guitarist) took to the stage and began to play. A few songs into their set, GAYLE asked fans to raise their hands if they were a part of Gen Z. Now, I don’t know exactly how many people put their hands up, but, surprisingly, it wasn’t an overwhelming majority. Including children and Gen Zers to millennials and Gen Xers, the crowd encompassed several generations, not just the expected one.
Before introducing her song “z,” GAYLE noticed a woman holding a photo from two years ago, when she performed at The Foundry as an opener for Winnetka Bowling League. After promising to sign the photo later, GAYLE, Andrew, and Max continued playing their set and fully utilized the stage as well as the space in front of it. Between walking and dancing, GAYLE and Max consistently moved across the stage. GAYLE, in a somewhat punk-rock fashion, jumped and kicked at the air multiple times while Max swayed and engaged in some light headbanging. Despite his inability to move around the stage in the same way as his bandmates, Andrew exuded just as much energy and passion. He didn’t skip any beats and demonstrated his dexterity every time he spun, tossed, and caught his drumsticks.
Progressing through their set, the trio didn’t strictly stick to songs from their repertoire (e.g. – “z,” “snow angels”, and “kiddie pool”); they performed several covers, too, including “Get the Party Started” (Pink), “London Bridge” (Fergie), “I Love Rock ’N Roll” (The Arrows), and “Wiggle” (Jason Derulo). Even though the last cover was memorable (partly because hearing “Wiggle” done as a rock song created a hilarious dichotomy), the one that stood out the most was that of “London Bridge” since GAYLE had Armani White join them on stage to perform it. Like the undeniable chemistry between GAYLE and her bandmates, there was a connection between GAYLE and Armani as they performed. Feeding off of each others’ energy, they moved in unison and alternated between singing together and taking turns. They also made sure to involve the crowd by encouraging them to shout, “Oh shit,” with them whenever it came up, especially toward the end of the song. This connection with the audience didn’t start here, though.
Throughout their entire performance, they connected with the crowd. From GAYLE holding fans’ hands and sharing her mic with them to Max occasionally playing music from SpongeBob to make people laugh, they brought their fans into the show, never excluding them from it. In addition to establishing an inclusive environment, the band members also welcomed the crowd into their own lives, sharing personal stories as well as vulnerable moments. From recounting how Andrew drew one of GAYLE’s tattoos to GAYLE losing a friend at a young age, which led her to write “god has a sense of humor,” they touched upon different events that helped shape them as individuals and as artists. Sadly, one of these instances involved being bombarded with negative and, at times, malicious comments online. Not being impervious to negativity, GAYLE acknowledged that she’s had moments in which she’s doubted herself and questioned whether she’s “on the right path”. Fortunately, through therapy and the support of her fans, she’s gotten better at brushing off her haters and is continuing to do what she loves—being an artist who puts her heart in her lyrics.
Before playing the last song of the night “abcdefu,” GAYLE took a moment to thank everyone for coming to the show, expressing how she didn’t care how many of her songs they knew—she was grateful they came to see her perform on her first
headlining tour. Following this, and with the crowd singing along, they performed the song, took their bows, and, then, proceeded to talk with, take photos with, and sign things for their fans whom, it’s pretty safe to say, they love. Between their passionate performance, energetic stage presence, and heartfelt moments, they proved that, despite being younger than other artists, they can hold their own in the music industry. As for all of the haters who have harassed them online, follow GAYLE’s words—“you can all fuck off”.